Rainbows Are Free

Rainbows Are Free

Norman, Oklahoma, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

Norman, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Rock Doom Metal




"Rainbows Are Free Mark Long-Awaited Return with ‘Head Pains’"

To call RAINBOWS ARE FREE legendary would be an understatement. The Oklahoma heavy psych prog rockers have been honing their craft for well over a decade, during which time they’ve become viral sensations on social media and heavy music forums everywhere. We last heard from Brandon Kistler (vox), Richie Tarver (lead Guitar), Joey Powell (rhythm guitar), Jason Smith (bass), and Bobby Onspaugh (drums) five years ago, when the crew released the beloved ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’ (2014).

To say that the band’s big return, 'Head Pains’ (2019), is hotly anticipated would be a mere understatement. Does it live up to hopes? What a silly question! You’d be hard pressed not to move, shimmy, and shake to “The Sounds Inside,” the musical equivalent of a rose-colored sunrise over the dusty plains and fields of a southern horizon. “Electricity On Wax” burst forth like a winter-full of pent up energy that can take cabin fever no longer and thaws into pulsing exuberance.

“Shapeshifter” is a dreamy number with a distinct western feel, contrasting Tool-like rhythmic concentration with trippy Morrison-esque vocals. Speaking of The Doors, “Covered In Dawn” is only missing the Hammond to recover that Waiting For The Sun vibe. Instead, it takes an unexpectedly doomy turn, with crooning New Wave undertones.

“Lady of the Woods/Psychonaut is the real gem of the album, at least to these ears. The balladic contrast between the two sections is reminiscent of Black Sabbath, though the trademark melodic excursions are vintage Rainbows Are Free. The album comes to a head with the medieval sounding folk rock number "Eunice,” closing with a worshipful chorus.

Head Pains was beautifully recorded and mixed by Trent Bell of Chainsaw Kittens at Bell Labs studios in Norman, Oklahoma, and will definitely make my Best of the Year list. The album releases November 29th on Argonauta Records (Get It). Now, Doomed & Stoned is pleased to present the worldwide premiere of the latest masterpiece by Rainbows Are Free - Doomed and Stoned

"Review: Rainbows Are Free 'Head Pains'"

Do any of you remember the old jukebox on Stonerrock.com (RIP)? At the time it seemed so cutting edge, but nothing ages like modernity, eh? The good people at Meteor City would upload a single track from each new album as it came into stock in the All That’s Heavy webstore, so over time the jukebox became the best legal source of free tracks from all sorts of weird, wonderful and downright obscure bands. Sadly, one track per album was all you got and getting hold of the releases once the webstore ran out was often a Herculean labour.

Anyway, I had a pleasant feeling of nostalgia when Rainbows Are Free came up on the list of things to review as I had fond memories of them from said jukebox (I suspect the shipping costs from the States were enough to put me off actually buying their EP) and hadn’t heard the name for at least a decade. It seems that they’ve been busy-ish in the interim, with Head Pains being their third full-length album, released in part by Argonauta Records (CD) and Horton Records (vinyl).

Ten years is a long time, so this refresher is as much for my benefit as yours: Rainbows Are Free are a five-piece piece from Norman, Oklahoma with a self-described sound that “appears on the rock n’ roll family tree at the point where proto-metal and heavy psychedelia shared a common apocryphal ancestor before branching off into their own distinct lineages”. Perhaps I’m being overly literal, but that had me expecting something distinctly retro and derivative, whereas Head Pains offers something altogether more individual and interesting.

Album opener The Sound Inside oozes a bass heavy tension that brings to mind bands from the turn of the millennium (I’m thinking Totimoshi, if that means anything to anyone) rather than taking you back to 1970. In fact, it’s a good distillation of the album as whole. Rainbows Are Free show an expert feel for building an atmosphere of tension and low-key menace, continually threatening to break out into something raucous and chaotic, but holding back and making the final release hit harder. Second track Electricity On Wax is the one that’s most redolent of the proto-metal and heavy psych from the press blurb. It combines an early 70s stomp with the sort of gonzoid vocals that were all the rage in certain circles circa 1969, but still sounds modern, fresh, and different from the hordes of bands looking to turn the clock back fifty years.

After the excellent start, Rainbows Are Free hold your attention across the whole of the album. Shapeshifter was released as the taster track and is another excellent example of their slow-burning approach, building gradually to a satisfyingly heavy conclusion. Lady Of The Woods/Psychonaut follows a similar pattern, but with an entirely different feel. Beginning with some acoustic guitar and emotive vocals, it again builds into a righteous rocking finale. There are some shorter and more straightforwardly heavy tracks interspersed (e.g. Covered In Dawn and The Nile Song), although even here Rainbows Are Free manage to stamp their own personality on proceedings.

Head Pains finishes on a high note. A Penny’s Worth, combining 70s hard rock swagger with a distinctly 90s edge, is probably the most immediate track on the album and paves the way for moody acoustic closer Eunice. Closing with a downbeat instrumental track is something of an unusual decision, but, for reasons I can’t quite fathom, it works really well here.

I’ve been putting off writing this review as Head Pains is a difficult record to summarise. Whilst it brings to mind lots of different bands and different scenes from across the years, it’s got a very unique feel and never sounds quite like anyone other than Rainbows Are Free. It holds together as a genuinely coherent record, a good example of how to put an album together. There’s a satisfying mix of understated tracks that take a few listens to appreciate and some more immediate numbers. Definitely worth checking out. - The Sleeping Shaman

"Review.- RAINBOWS ARE FREE.- “Head pains”"

The band composed of Brandon Kistler (voice), Richie Tarver (guitar), Joey Powell (rhythm guitar), Jason Smith (bass) and Bobby Onspaugh (drums) returns five years later with their third album, and could not do better . Oklahoma, create an unclassifiable album but outstanding. High doses of versatile psychedelia that live with dark gothic moments more typical of Sister of Mercy or Bauhaus with a notable influence of the Morrison legacy. Alternative sounds with powerful rhythms and a lot of fuzz. If we add to this that they dare to immerse us in symphonic progressive moments, the cocktail may seem daring. But that is precisely where the band gets all the best it has inside. Without sticking to any script, make the post-punk, the hard rock, the sandy sounds overflowing with fuzz fraternize in the best possible way. Always surprising us with each theme, its versatility is its greatest guarantee. A guarantee that listening to “HEAD PAINS” , there is no place for boredom. The long wait has had its reward and there will be many who congratute with this new album. For others, an irreproachable opportunity to meet a great band. The album is published via Argonauta Records andHorton Records

"The sound inside" opens the album with that intriguing psychedelia that rises mysteriously through dark mists. Cadent and with cathartic voices inheriting Gothic moments of the eighties. The new wave and the post-punk versus the doorsian inheritance between spatial effects and rhythms from alternative catacombs.

Fat, heavy and primitive, the contemporary alternative sounds of RAINBOWS ARE FREE manage to combine different vibrations in “Electricity on wax” ranging from blues, psychedelia, and a darkness generated by a thick mantle of cathartic fuzz. With the best galas of underground aesthetics, the dark echoes of the eighties make an appearance among barbs of fuzzy fuzz. torment and restlessness between magnificent guitars. One of the best songs on the album.

Cadencious and mysterious "Shapeshifter" It makes its way between psych atmospheres that create enough tension to keep us alert. A warm voice with blouse tones, the insatiable drums and cadent bass and a few incisors and acids achieve create the climate intended by Oklahoma. Fuzzy fuzz in a gray theme that is enlarged acquiring more and more intensity. Cathartic and attractive can create a perplexity that makes us want more. The theme plays with different psychedelic elements to create a magnetic sound swarm that traps us between its jaws. A cathartic spell among the darkness in which the band moves so well. getting carried away by this psychedelic commitment to lands that touch the stratosphere. Counting thick, sharp and hurting rhythms alone under the hypnotic rhythms that evolve in a kaleidoscopic spiral in which hallucinogens leave each note. This is the longest theme of the album, and it is shown as an opportunity to develop all the psychedelia within.That voice on horseback between the bets of the British Gothic rock of the eighties and the more shamanic Morrison together with a combination of lysergic elements achieves a great and original result.

"Covered in dawn" gives a certain twist with its desert smoky riffs. Fuzz garagero and sandy and alternative voices heiress of Bauhaus or Sister of Mercy . Intense, heartbreaking, tormented, its sound is thickened thanks to the work of the bass. Another combination between the echoes of the desert and the catacombs of the alternative scene of the islands that inhabit the darkness.

In a new unexpected twist, "Lady of the Woods / Psychonaut" is constructed from acoustic chords and lysergic effects. A symphony in the same gray tones of the preceding themes but this time with a progressive character. More melodic hard-progressive voices build heartbreaking and intense melodies. It seems that we are facing another band. The guitars and their beautiful chords alone among hard-rock rhythms. Elements of different styles that are woven with firmness and great ability so that nothing is imposed. Even his angelic choirs find a gap between the powerful rhythm and the cadence of the unshakable bass. Completely amazing.

To put the icing on a cake that is created with a multitude of ingredients, "The nile song" shows RAINBOWS ARE FREE in full effervescence hard & heavy eighties. a subject that does not miss his appointment the ever present fuzz wrap.

Much heavier "A Penny's worth" affects the heavy-rock and stoner echoes with a retrospective look at the alternative scene of the last century. Only virtuosos complete a round trip to the proto-metal scene under psychedelic highways.

Again folk acoustics is presented to us in "Eunice". Almost medieval, the theme is accompanied by angelic choirs that elevate us to a luminous space that we had not seen in any of the previous themes. A dream story that contrasts with the strength of the entire album showing the most sensual side of the band. - Denpafuzz

"Rainbows Are Free - Head Pains...review"

Oklahoma's Ranbows Are Free are a strange beast but one well wort investing a little time in getting to know. The bands sound is a heady blend of heavy stoner rock and space tinted psych that although might sound a tad normal and par for the course in todays current underground scene is nothing of the such. Desert Psychlist can guarantee you that there is nothing straightforward or run of the mill about what this band bring to the table with their heady mix of theatrics and eclectic grooviness but don't take our word for it, do yourselves a favour and just give their latest opus "Head Pains" (Argonauta Records-CD/Digital and Horton Records - Vinyl) a spin for confirmation.

There is a gothic edge to some of the grooves on "Head Pains" that harks back to that post punk era of the UK music scene, a time that saw the emergence of bands like Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and The Southern Death Cult (who later shortened their name and leapt into the classic rock arena as The Cult) flying their colours under the banner of Goth Rock. This edge comes not from a musical perspective but from a vocal one and the fact that vocalist Brandon Kistler, when singing in the lower register, channels a croon that blends shades of Bauhaus' Pete Murphy's baritone delivery with that of The Cult's Ian Astbury as well as a little hint of Jim Morrison and Nick Cave too. Musically the band jam high calibre grooves gathered from the full spectrum of western rock music with Floydian heavy psych, Sabbathesque proto-doom and even a little baroque-like acoustic picking getting thrown in to the mix. It is this diversity that makes "Head Pains" such a joy to listen to, the band having no specific signature sound and seemingly just going with what feels right to them at the time, something that results in a delightful mish mash of styles and genres that totally defies categorisation.

Rainbows Are Free have, with "Head Pains", crafted an album that is somewhat like an English stew or a New Orleans gumbo, the band throwing everything that has ever moved or influenced them into one big pot and stirring it all together to make something totally unique, mouthwatering and extremely tasty.
Check it out … - Desert Psychlist

"Rainbows Are Free – Head Pains 4.5 out of 5"

With their debut released in 2008, the Oklahoman quintet of Rainbows Are Free have, throughout the years, orbited in on a solid sense of their musical identity. Happily, familiarity doesn’t have to correspond with predictability, with this new album luxuriating in weird but deeply-groovable territory.

Featuring an acid-washed hard rock style, more than a little of the ’70s is being brought to life by RAF‘s fuzzy guitar, devious drumming, and strange vocals that take on more than a slight shine of mysticism thanks to the band’s fondness for drawing them through echoes and reverb. With a lusty liveliness evident even in the simplest of the band’s grooves, and a willingness to put the party on hold for the sake of some trippy atmospherics (see the opening of “Shapeshifter” for a great example of this), there’s no doubt that the band has poured plenty of effort and intensity into the concoction of Head Pains.

Sure, there are comparisons to be made to groups like Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple, and so on. But, unlike a lot of groups that spring up trying to emulate those giants of yesteryear, RAF make sure to place their own character at the forefront, with the similarities to past groups coming through as a bit of lineage, not a direct blueprint. That, and an infusion of Ween-like weirdness, goes a long way in helping them stand apart from their less-inventive contemporaries.

I have to admit that I was surprised to see that the band is from Oklahoma, since there’s a big feel of Euro-psych to their style. Something about the way they emphasize melody, have fuzz present but not as a crutch, and their willingness to spin off into proggy tangents, all set off my Italian or Swedish psych rock buzzers. It’s no surprise that the album is being handled by the Italy-based Argonauta Records, who have a long track record of picking up bands I love (Frank Sabbath and MotherSloth being the first to jump to mind). In any event, if acid rock is your bag, you’ll definitely want to check in on this; have a great time once you do.


"Full Spectrum - our albums and 12 years in, Norman’s Rainbows Are Free broadens its musical palette. BY JEREMY MARTIN"

Lead guitarist Richie Tarver doesn’t know what you’ll hear when you listen to Head Pains, but to him, it sounds more like Rainbows Are Free and less like doom-metal standard-bearers Black Sabbath.

“I think we finally kind of found our voice,” Tarver said. “We kind of broke out of this Sabbath-worship-type thing that seems to be pretty saturated in the whole community, so we were trying to branch out a little bit and find our niche within that sub-genre. … I don’t know to what extent, externally, that will be recognized, but for us, it definitely is. There’s a little more of a heavy psychedelic angle than just the doom-y kind of metal tones. … We branched out, got a little more musical, focused on the songwriting, and for us, there's a definite shift. … There’s truly a point of departure in finding whatever it is our sound is in the landscape of heavy music.”

Rainbows Are Free plays 9 p.m. Nov. 29 at Blue Note Lounge, 2408 N. Robinson Ave. The band will celebrate the release of its fourth album Head Pains, the follow-up to 2014’s Waves Ahead of the Ocean.

“We went on a little bit of a hiatus between our last album and this one, so it was a real struggle to maintain continuity of sound, and frankly, there was a bit of a lineup change,” Tarver said. “Everything really emerged for the better, and hopefully some of that comes across in the music. It was a kind of a weird era for us as a band in our personal lives and everything, but we fought through it all and emerged triumphantly.”

In addition to Tarver, Rainbows Are Free currently features lead vocalist Brandon Kistler, rhythm guitarist Joey Powell, bassist Jason Smith, drummer Bobby Onspaugh and synth player Josh Elam, the band’s most recent recruit.

“It fills out the sound and allows us to do some kind of fun, more experimental-type stuff,” Tarver said of Elam’s contribution. “By virtue of creating a new sonic landscape, I’m sure that opened up some doorways.”

Fitting a six-person band through those doorways can sometimes be complicated, but Tarver said the new dynamic is worth making adjustments for.

“It makes things a little more crowded during load-in and load-out, but honestly, it's all for the better,” Tarver said. “When you’ve been a band for 12 years, changing things can be treacherous, but luckily, it’s the right person, someone we’ve known personally throughout our musical careers, so it’s been a great fit.

Encountering countless “fashionable hipster stoner bands” on tour has inspired Rainbows Are Free to work toward a more complex and singular sound on Head Pains.

“It’s definitely within the canon,” Tarver said, “but there's a certain element of maturation and experimenting with a couple of new things just to stay relevant to our own ears. Going out on the road earlier this year, and as we age in this subgenre, we realize really how saturated and kind of, in some ways, two-dimensional some of these bands … that are now all over the landscape are. It’s a very healthy thing for heavy music overall and metal communities and things like that, but there's kind of a limited dimensionality, I think, and we were trying to distance ourselves from that … change it up a little bit, not just for the sake of changing it up. It was definitely a natural, organic progression.”

He said Head Pains takes inspiration from “early heavy ’70s progressive bands” such as The Alan Parsons Project, Uriah Heep and King Crimson.

“We did a lot more crafting those kind of soundscapes,” Tarver said. “In some cases, they’re very moody and eerie and atmospheric. Joey and I now have a pretty dialed-in plan of attack. He does a lot of the atmosphere, and I do a lot of the traditional lead work and things like that. It’s a pretty good complement, and then you add that synth element and you start to get a pretty robust, colorful canvas start to emerge.”

Like Rainbows Are Free’s previous releases, Trent Bell mixed and recorded Head Pains at Bell Labs Studios in Norman, but the new album is the band’s first to be released by Genoa, Italy-based Argonauta Records after, Tarver said, local label Guestroom Records “kicked us out of nest.” The band secured the deal with Argonauta after months of “grinding,” passing out download codes and cards at South by Southwest and, of course, hearing “some healthy rejection.”

“I feel like I’ve got an honorary bachelor’s degree in cold-calling,” Tarver said. “It’s definitely a tedious process.”

The band approached the label with a completed album, including psychedelic cover art by Tony Roberts, which Tarver said probably sweetened the deal.

“I’m not sure I’d recommend this process to anybody who’s looking to find a new label, but we were pretty confident — or maybe just kind of desperate confident — that we had something decent, and it was just about finding the right fit,” Tarver said. “So we had it mastered, actually; we already had the art; I mean, it was the full package. I think in some ways that kind of helped because I don’t know if you’ve seen the album art, but it’s pretty undeniable. … Labels usually like to be in the demo process and being able to have a guiding hand there, but we didn’t really account for much of that. But fortunately, there was somebody that was interested, and they swooped in and saved the day.”

For a band that formed in 2007, tangible proof that resilience can pay off has been inspiring.

“It’s hard to maintain some kind of connection with five other individuals in a nonromantic relationship,” Tarver said. “It’s an undertaking. I think that’s one of the key things, to just stay in the band together, and eventually, if you’re persistent about what you want, I think good things will happen, or at least you’ll be true to your interests. A lot of it is just maintaining. I know a lot of very talented people who have a lot of promise, but they just can’t keep it together for whatever reason.”

Hitting a growth spurt a dozen years into its existence, Tarver said, is the result of Rainbows Are Free refusing to chase trends in favor of following its own developmental arc.

“It’s kind of an organic evolution of who we are as people and, on a more broad scale, as a band,” Tarver said, “letting ourselves do what we wanted to do and not worrying about how other people would perceive it, not that that was ever really a factor. … Our music isn’t very marketable. It’s not commercial, but there’s definitely some integrity to maintaining your vision. And that’s what we, ultimately, try to focus on.” - Oklahoma Gazette

"Oklahoma doom-metal warriors follow through."

Led by seven foot tall singer Brandon Kistler, Rainbows Are Free from Norman, Oklahoma have been making a name for themselves thanks to their well-received debut album, and by sharing bills with the likes of Black Mountain and Dead Meadow.
Although failing to live up to the demented promise of the gloriously titled Speed God And The Rise Of The Mothertuckers From A Race Beyond Hell, the group's sound is a sometimes uncanny replication of the kind of proto-metal that could be found bothering the UK rock-club circuit of the early 70s.There are strident monster-riffs, convoluted arrangements and testicle-shredding vocals on titles such as Sonic Demon and ripsnorting closer Comet.
While throwing southern rock, behemoth doom and prog-psych into their churning cauldron, Rainbows Are Free may wel find a rabid new crowd with today's audiences who weren't privileged to experience this kind of thunderous stoner whoopee the first time around.

Kris Needs - Classic Rock Magazine - September 2014 Issue

"Rainbows Are Free-Super Rock Power Hour"

"They're from somewhere in Oklahoma. The part of Oklahoma that has UFO cults, bathtub acid, wizard robes, custom vans and amplifiers the size of refrigerators. There's a good chance Rainbows will blow your mind for good, so use caution..." -Classic Rock Magazine (Summer 2011 special issue) Sleazegrinder - Classic Rock Magazine

"Rainbows Are Free at Norman Music Fest 5"

Rainbows Are Free, hands down, put on the best performance of the weekend.

Rainbows Are Free's sonic locus appears on the rock 'n roll family tree at the point where proto-metal and heavy psychedelia shared a common apocryphal ancestor before branching off into their own distinct lineages. Believers in Medicine is indicative of this relationship, ripe with heavy riffage and stoner swagger.

I didn't write that, they did. I could never come up with anything to top that.

If you are into bands like Black Sabbath, The Damned and Hawkwind you'll love Rainbows Are Free. Their set (which started with the band wearing some type of Grim Reaper/Evil Wizard/Goth Worship costumes) was loud, fast and furious. You've got to love a lead singer who keeps a microphone in one hand, a PBR Tall Boy in the other, and when asked to choose which to let fall to the stage, the death grip on the beer wins out. When Rainbows Are Free takes the stage, you can expect to take your first breath about fifteen minutes after the set has ended, if you survive. If you survive. - The Jivewired Journal

"Rainbows Are Free-Believers In Medicine"

"they genuinely fire up the burners and kick ass with a lumbering gallop, fuzzed-out leads and Brandon Kistler's straight-edge Ozzy vocals"
-Kevin Stuart-Panko - Decibel Magazine

"Waves Ahead of the Ocean"

Give a listen to the awesomely titled ‘Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell’, which displays the band at their bad ass best. The main riff, a stone cold killer, with some seriously wailing leads over the top, the drums, bombastic and beefy, and when those vocals swoop in, totally over the top. Somewhere between the near operatic metallic howl of Mika from Finnish hypno rockers Circle, the classic metal vox of Judas Priest‘s Rob Halford, and the space lord motherfucker himself, Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet. And actually Monster Magnet is probably the best band to compare these guys too.

While not quite as space-y, they have the same massive musical balls, every second here oozing major attitude, and maybe most importantly of all, they don’t take themselves too seriously. It may be metal, and it may be heavy, but it sounds like these guys are having the times of their lives, and that sort of vibe is seriously infectious, and gives this a bit of a party rock vibe, which helps keep Rainbows from devolving into generic stoner rock, instead, the sound and the songs are loose and wild and wooly and fun as fuck, totally headbangable, groovy and crazy catchy too.

There’s also some Southern rock going on throughout, which of course reminds us of all time aQ faves Raging Slab, not to mention all the bands we mentioned in our review of the first Rainbows Are Free record (Kyuss, Reverend Bizarre, Skin Yard, Goatsnake, Freedom Hawk, etc.), and fuck, any band that lands somewhere between Monster Magnet and Raging Slab, gets a BIGtime aQ seal of approval! - Aquarius Records

"RAF w/ The Sword, Eagle Claw Live Review"

It’s rare that one can attend a concert and feel completely stoked the entire time, but recently I was able to do just that. Austin-based riff-rockers The Sword descended upon the ACM Performance Lab in downtown Oklahoma City on Friday night as did I. Upon arriving at a parking lot that I worked at for ~four years in high school, my most hated former coworker demanded that I pay the $5 (bastard) but the night got off to an excellent start regardless. The line for entry was a little sluggish, but that’s a minor complaint. The venue was excellent. They allowed re-entry, had a huge, clean bathroom, and excellent sound, lighting, etc. From what I understand, it is run by students from ACM@UCO which is pretty badass. It was a very positive experience.

Norman’s Rainbows are Free kicked off the evening. This was my second time to be fortunate enough to see them. Simply put, I absolutely love this band. Their sound is organic and tasty. Basically, it’s good-ass rock and roll. Listening to Rainbows are Free makes me want to lean on a truck bed on a hot summer day while drinking an ice-cold beer. I respond positively to stimuli that elicit that response in me, so I love Rainbows are Free. Their set Friday was excellent. (Guitar nerd engage). I was positioned directly in front of lead guitarist Richie Tarver’s amp, and the tone was absolutely superb. Watching RAF play is kind of like watching a bunch of dogs fight. It’s playful and interesting and a lot of fun, but then out of nowhere the dogs begin tearing and scratching and making a ton of racket. It’s terrifying for a minute, and it reminds you that you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Basically, what you’re dealing with when you see Rainbows are Free is a bunch of crunchy, snaky riffs, a driving beat, vocals that teeter on the edge of a howl and a scream, and enough atmospheric breaks to grown an entire garden of shrooms. Go see this band as soon as possible, and buy their debut album, “Believers in Medicine” out now on Guestroom Records. Apparently they’re playing on Tuesday, March 15 somewhere in Austin for SXSW. That’s sweet. Hopefully i’ll make it down."

Houston - KXZY Oklahoma State College Radio

"A name's just a name"

Now I know not to judge a band by their album/EP covers, I learnt my lesson with Lonely Kamel. But the same can be said about band names. So, on paper you may be excused from thinking Rainbows Are Free may appear to sound like a Village People tribute band, but they're far from it. Obviously. These guys have balls. Ok, the Village People had 'balls' too, they loved them, but thats in a whole different way.
Straight out the gates these guys blast your ears with a mix of classic rock and stoner psych. Kistler's vocals sound like a clash of Axel Rose and Robert Plant, which as strange as it sounds works perfectly with the southern rock undertones. The entire recording is bathed in a retro feel, just listening to the first couple of tracks you'll notice a distinct influence from the likes of Sabbath, Zeppelin and Mountain. But in the same token you'll also catch simular smatterings of more recent bands like Down and Clutch.
An awesome piece of work from every angle. Give it a listen then rush over to Guestroom Records to grab a copy of the cd, if theres any of the 500 that were pressed left!
- Ride With the Devil

"Recent Release"

"Rainbows Are Free? Did they really name their METAL band that? Really? Well, they are on the psychedelic/stonery side of things, so that sort of thing kinda makes sense, just like the local band called Glitter Wizard, but still. You gotta really kick ass to pull off having a name like that. And, they do! Bottom heavy, fuzzed out, swinging riffage explodes out of the gate on opener "Slow Train". They don't really let ever let up, with wild, even more fuzz-filled soloing and a vocal style that surprises by morphing from a stoner drawl into what sounds more like a frothing rabid Rob Halford from Judas Priest! Really, on the second track the singer busts out a gruff, staccato style that's more metal than thou, over the top like Halford singing "The Ripper" with a frog in his throat, not at all what we were expecting but pretty damn awesome. That's actually when we knew we really liked this band, that they were willing to roam outside the standard stoner rawk template, the singer especially, screaming and/or crooning as the mood strikes, while the band RIPS right along. As a result, there's moments here that remind us of everything in the stoner/psych/doom/grunge realm from Kyuss to Reverend Bizarre to Skin Yard (or Gruntruck) to Goatsnake to Danava ... From their name on down, it's hard to peg these guys, but we like 'em and their chunky grooves and freaky ways. They get particularly far-out and bad-trippy on "Sinking Ship", and the singer's yowl on "Are You Dead?" even conjures up the shade of Saint Vitus' Scott Reagers.
Recommended to anyone into all the killer stoner stuff we've been giving the thumbs up to lately from the MeteorCity and Small Stone labels, for instance the Solace we listed last week. And, everyone who dug Freedom Hawk oughta dig the heck outta this too!! " - Aquarius Records

"Color of Blight"

Color of blight
With heavy riffs, self-medication and talks of sacrifice, you’re forgiven for thinking Rainbows Are Free originates from the swaggering ’70s.


Rainbows Are Free with Woebegone and Spank
9 p.m. Saturday Opolis 113 N. Crawford, Norman opolis.org 820-0951 $9

There are several reasons why Norman’s Rainbows Are Free describes its sound as “heavy devil music.” There’s the heavy riffage, pounding percussion, mind-bending psychedelia, rants against religion and … well, this.

“There’s the sacrifices, and our love for the dark lord,” bassist Chad Hogue said in deadpan. “You kind of need the devil to help you sell it.”

Added lead guitarist Richie Tarver, “It doesn’t sound like something you want to listen to while praying.”

Rainbows Are Free has become the go-to doom-metal band in the metro since its formation in 2007, garnering them opening spots for High on Fire, The Sword and Queensrÿche.

Inspired by Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the un-metal name may be deceiving, but the band is quick to note that label both fits and doesn’t.

“On the music family tree, I like to say we appear on the part where psyche delic,

heavy, classic rock and proto-metal diverge into their own branches,” Tarver said. “We’re not an overt metal band. We get told that a lot, but I think it’s more of a Zep, kind-of-loud classic-rock band that flirts with the heavy shit every once in a while.”

Said lead singer Brandon Kistler, “It’s got a groove. It’s rock ’n’ roll. Speed metal is just speed. This has a swagger.”

“Hopefully,” said Tarver, “it’s something people can get sucked into.”

That sound is drenched in vintage guitar riffs and true to its roots of the ’60s and ’70s, which is part of the charm.

“We’re not doing anything groundbreaking here,” Hogue said. “Really, it’s all been done before, but it’s not really being done now.”

Added Tarver, “I’m not sure why none of us ever moved past that sort of music, but I think it’s just that we all love that era of history.”

“We’re old, so it works,” Hogue said. That fondness for all things old in rock ’n’ roll is on display in Rainbows Are Free’s self-titled debut 2008 EP, and more so in the follow-up, last year’s “Believers in Medicine,” released on Guestroom Records Records.

It doesn’t sound like something you want to listen to while praying.

—Richie Tarver

That title — and much of the record’s subject matter — explores the influence and importance of drugs on the world of metal.
“We’ve all experimented in our lives,” Kistler said. “We’ve all come out of it, none of us went down that dark, dark path or anything. I’m a fan of self-medicating. ... I just believe it’s a part of rock ’n’ roll, especially what we do.”

Added Tarver, “I don’t know how you could not do it, playing the type of music we do. I’m not condoning it, but it’s hard to escape the influence. It’s definitely part of the ritual.”

“We are talking about PCP, right?” asked Hogue, to his bandmates’ laughter.

Playing Saturday at Opolis, Rainbows Are Free has no concrete plans concerning another album, but new music can be expected as early as this fall, via a stream of singles throughout the near future. That’s about the only modern avenue the guys seem interested in using.

“We are doing exactly what it is we want to do,” Hogue said. “I think people are going to appreciate that for what it is.”

Joshua Boydston - Oklahoma Gazette

"Queensryche: 30 years just getting started"

Every once in a while you come across something that makes you take a step back and ask yourself, “Did I just see what I think I saw?” Monday, Sept. 19 was full of those moments as Queensryche rolled into the ol’ 423 for a night celebrating 30 years of music.

The first of which was as Rainbows are Free took to the stage. I honestly thought these guys were the techs getting the drums, guitars and mics set up, I was way off base. The “everyman” band launches into their set and lumbering onstage is a towering figure in a western shirt and cowboy hat carrying multiple cans and bottles. Again, I thought perhaps a roadie is bringing up refreshment for these guys. Once again, I was mistaken. Now realizing, that this indeed was the band, I was able to settle in and enjoy what can only be explained as a huge surprise. Norman, OK based Rainbows Are Free comes across as a Black Sabbath sound, with slow tempo, but crunching guitars. They won the 2011 "Woody Award" for "Best Metal Artist" in Oklahoma. Guitarist Richie Tarver describes their sound as "Heavy classic rock/ proto-metal with moments of droney psychedelia and groove riffage.”

RAF put together a stripped down, rocking set that, at first listen will have you wondering if that was something I could be into. It doesn’t take long to realize that in some strange way that was cool and I need to hear more. What I can also say is if you are into a throwback brand of rock/metal such as Wolfmother, this band is definitely for you.

Rainbows Are Free photo gallery.

Click to open image!

Photos by: Kevin Pyle

The biggest surprise of the night was the set that Queensryche put together though. This veteran band from Seattle hasn’t lost a step in their now 30 year career.

This writer had seen them back in the early ‘90’s and at that time they were filling arenas, so there was a small amount of sadness that this band, who has sold over 20 million albums and played as a headliner for Rocklahoma 2009 is now playing a smaller venue. I truly didn’t know what to expect.

After seeing this concert, I can say firmly, those “Did I just see what I think I saw?” moments I spoke of earlier, came in waves throughout this 21 song set list and left me awestruck. Also, making me realize that it doesn’t matter the size of the venue, if there is passion in the music and a sense of connecting with your crowd you can still be a heavyweight in your craft. The fact that Queensryche played 30 years worth of material is a testament to their music, songwriting and afore mentioned passion.

Geoff Tate and company put on one of the tightest sets I have ever seen. It is one thing to here an album that has had engineers hands all over it and give the sound life through gadgetry, but being able to pull it off live is another thing entirely. Queensryche does it with ease. The harmonies, breaks and guitar solos are spot on and jaw-dropping. From the show opener “Get Started,” which lets fans know that there is still plenty left in the tank, to “I Don’t Believe In Love” (the dual guitar solo was amazing) and on to “Silent Lucidity” the chill factor was in full effect. Goosebumps crawled down my arms as Tate continued to impress with his crisp, well toned and pitched voice. His connection with the audience was nothing short of incredible, working the stage and making sure to get everyone involved. Giving the “thumbs up” several times throughout the show and bowing as if to say, “It honors us that you showed up tonight.” The night concluded with the ever epic song, “Eyes of A Stranger” from the must have disc Operation: Mindcrime and came to a climax as a wall of sound came from the stage and swept across the ballroom, much like a shockwave left behind from an A-Bomb.

Queensryche photo gallery.

Click to open image!

Photos by: Kevin Pyle

Queensryche show no signs of slowing down. As they did back in the ‘90’s when I saw them they still put on a show that will have you aching for more and singing along with their songs days after the concert has ended. In this writers opinion they have only gotten better.

Liam Allen - The Tulsa World

"Current Rotation"

"Here is one that I discovered a while back but was recently submitted. I’m glad it came through because I forgot how good it is. The band, Rainbows Are Free. The album, Believers in Medicine. If you like good ol fuzzed out hard rock and roll, Rainbows Are Free have you covered. Believers in Medicine is one hell of an album too. The guitars are fantastic, fuzzy, heavy and there are plenty of riff to stuck in your head. The music is really catchy which I thought was one of the appeals of the album. I was humming a few afterwards. This isn’t an album you should pass up. They do have a previous EP as well (which equally kicks ass)."-The Soda Shop - The Soda Shop

"Rainbows Are Free - Self Titled EP"

Rainbows are Free – Self Titled EP
Reviewed by Thunder Horse (StonerRock.com)
Self Released
Release date: 2008

Rainbows are Free is a doom metal outfit from Norman, Oklahoma. They’ve taken a good dosage of the blues and they draw inspiration from the sounds of archaic metal bands of the seventies - true disciples of heavy devil music. One can easily draw parallels to Sabbath, Cream, Pentagram, Hawkwind, etc. This EP features four well crafted tunes that leave you curious to hear what they’re recording right now.

On the first song “Are You dead ?” the singer shines with his haunting vocal contribution. The guitars deftly shift from groovy southern-fried pull-off licks to Sabbath-esque staccato rhythms. “Bloodcano” has an interesting credenza. Starting at the halfway point the singer starts raving, then the song culminates with a fierce guitar solo. Slamming waves of molten guitar magma, racing towards the shore, hungry for steamed trout and beluga. The last song “Crystal Ball” sounds like a long lost SST-era Soundgarden track. All in all, it’s a good preview of an up and coming stoner band in the Midwest. - StonerRock.com (Thunder Horse)

"Rainbows Are Free - Self Titled EP"

By Michael Ballue
April 8th, 2009

Interesting choice in names for this five piece from Oklahoma, but don’t let it throw you because this band has an interesting sound for a very overdone genre (Heavy 70’s influenced rock with elements of doom and metal). It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes this stand out from the crowd (along with Stone Axe, I’ve been lucky with review material quality lately!) because their biggest advantage is an over all vibe (well that and some serious bite and fire to the guitar).

The overall feel that I get from this ep is kind of the inverse of the one I got from first album Abdullah. Abdullah during that period had a serious smoothness to the music and vocals, balancing some bone chilling horror in the atmosphere, like traversing a daemon-ridden, Lovecraftian abyss while sheltered in an opium dream cocoon. This ep doesn’t have a stand out, up front musical difference from the pack, but there is a grittiness and edginess that is hard to pin down, kind of like walking through a summer field toward a farmhouse, all should be peaceful and tranquil, but the hairs on the back of your neck are up and there is a palpable vibe of wrongness and evil.

Opener “Are You Dead” comes ambling out, at first fairly generic, but quickly brings a disturbing ambiance first noticed in the vocals…something is just not right here and I don’t mean in a musical sense, but in a “I would not want to be lost in the countryside with this guy around” sense. There is nothing overtly gruff or angry in the vocal tone, just disturbing. The guitar work deserves mention for a feel of bite and edge and emphatic, forceful, but not overplayed soloing (a trend that will continue throughout the ep). Next up is “Bloodcano”, which is probably my favorite track here. More “in your face” right from the gate, it continues all its predecessor’s traits in a far heavier and more aggressive fashion. This one contains enough good riffs to make a few solid metal songs from.

“Like A River We Roll” comes close to giving me a struggle with elements of generic mediocrity, but is redeemed by some spirited, spot on guitar work of both the soloing and “making great use of simple pummeling riffing” variety and the fact that it actually gets better as it moves along. Closer “Crystal Ball” sounds just like Mother Love Bone if they’d been smoking pot and dropping brown acid instead of doing smack and that doesn’t work out badly at all. Good groove, intermittent heaviness and a somewhat disorienting amorphous menace…all in all a nice little dose of dark, spinning target-eyed swagger to wrap up the ep.

This was quite a pleasant surprise. I’m still not sure the name is a good idea, but the music is certainly in one of the higher percentiles of its chosen class. If the above sounds like your cup of tea get to e-mailing because I have a feeling my review didn’t quite do this justice.
- HellfireMusic.com

"Rainbows Are Free - Self Titled EP"

From chaos comes beauty, from emotion comes madness, and from structure comes those who strive to deny it. So is Rainbows Are Free, forever the sculptors of anarchic magnificence, the ushers of insuppressible fury, and the wielders of the mighty power of rock. On their debut, self-titled EP the elegance that lies behind the distortion is as undeniable as the precision that flows through their instrumentation like lighting through a telephone line, lustily anticipating the melting of your ears. Brandon Kistler’s howling vocals call down the moon while Richie Tarver’s righteous guitar commands it to give you nightmares, and Justin Gallas’ simply flawless drumming makes me wonder why the hell he ever wasted his time not bringing down the hammer of Thor in an indie-rock band. Guitar work on songs “Bloodcano” and “Are You Dead” make them viable candidates for the next installment of Guitar Hero, and the progression of “Crystal Ball” would make Tom Morello proud. This album awakens the spirits of metal that have lain dormant within all rock fans since the 1980’s and screams alongside them. You heard it here first, rock is back. - Sound Interpreting (Graham Lee Brewer)


This is the second studio album from Oklahoma's Rainbows Are Free, so kick back, light a fat one and listen to 'Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell' (certainly an early contender for "Most Outrageous Song Title 2014"Ed). The song takes you on a trip into a stratospheric zone, the likes you won't have heard since Hawkwind released 'Space Ritual'.
The short but sweet 'The Botanist' •s a crazy, Doom-laden head banger, and the band tap into a bygone era of music that seems to be spawning new bands and faithful fans each year.
Title track 'Waves Ahead Of The Ocean' has seven-foot singer Brandon Kistler delivering a classic orgy of screeching vocals, while guitar player Richie Tarver delivers Blues-soaked chords of destruction.
We take an esoteric corridor for 'Sonic Demon , as the sc-ng twists and turns until it bursts into iron slabs of Metal mayhem. After that dazzling display of power, the band take things down a step, and the result is 'Cadillac'; slow and twisted Blues when needed, with a seductive edge.
A taste of Southern Rock is on the menu and served up in 'Snake Bitten By Love', a more conventional Rocker that keeps the album sounding fresh. The darkened tones of 'Burn And Die' remind me of some of the Masters of Reality s material - which is no bad thing in my book.
Finishing With 'Comet', Rainbows Are Free led us on a trail into forbidden territory. Foreboding vocals and droning guitars produce a hypnotic tone as the song divides into various musical parts, before climaxing into a vibrant mass of musical gmotion.

Ray Paul - Fireworks Magazine - Sept/Oct 2014 Issue

"RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Chasing Rainbows"

Rainbows Are Free – Waves Ahead Of The Ocean (Guestroom Records)

Genre: Heavy Metal/Stoner Rock

If the title of epic opener Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell doesn’t readily roll of the tongue then its bone-crunching riffs, doom-laden vocals and stoner-tinged groove will rumble around your head for weeks.

It’s a stunning scene setter for a record that may be retro heavy (check the references to 1999 and 1983 in back-to-back tracks) but slots seamlessly into a revivalist scene fronted by The Sword and High On Fire. In fact fans of both genre leaders will love everything about Rainbows Are Free.

If it doesn’t cost a penny to enjoy a kaleidoscope of colour then there is a price to pay for those brave enough to tackle Waves Ahead Of The Ocean. Prepare to be mentally bludgeoned by a punishing combination of fuzzed-up ferocity and spaced out lyrics that never let up.

Lighter moments – or the less heavy bits – allow frontman Brandon Kistler to demonstrate there’s more to his foreboding tone than the full-on brooding that’s prevalent on the majority of this darkly endearing record. But Rainbows Are Free are all about the heaviness and that’s where this monster metal unit excel. Simon Rushworth

RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Chasing Rainbows - RUSH ON ROCK

"Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean"

Led by the substantial pipes of vocalist B. Fain Kistler, Norman, Oklahoma, four-piece Rainbows are Free seem keen on finding the place where classic doom and heavy rock meet, and on their second full-length, Waves ahead of the Ocean (released by Guestroom Records), they just about get there. Kistler is a singer worthy of comparison to Grand Magus‘ JB Christoffersson, but Rainbows are Free are less grandiose overall, early songs like “The Botanist,” the title-track and the cumbersomely-titled opener “Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place beyond Hell” nestling into heavy, engaging grooves marked out by the choice riffing of Richie Tarver, the bass work of Chad Hogue and drums of Bobby Onspaugh. Unpretentious and professional in their presentation, they doom up an otherwise Clutch-style boogie in “Cadillac” before going full-on trad metal in “Snake Bitten by Love,” and ably making their way through a Dio Sabbath push on “Burn and Die,” which works well despite feeling a long way from the upbeat rockin’ of earlier highlight “Sonic Demon” and leads smoothly into closer “Comet,” the six-and-a-half-minute spacier thrust of which seems to be seems to be where Rainbows are Free most choose to harken to the psychedelia one might expect from their moniker. They most drive toward the epic in their finale, and the payoff there is churning and insistent in a way that more than justifies the song’s position on the 37-minute record, but even then have a keen eye for structure and holding the attention of their audience. An impeccably put together album from a band more than ready to turn heads. Rainbows are Free on Thee Facebooks, Guestroom Records on Bandcamp. - The Obelisk

"Rainbows Are Free - Waves Ahead of the Ocean"

What a week for new bands in the Brooks’ household! After having Kamchatka locked on the stereo for the past two weeks, this baby landed courtesy of Dropbox, and whilst strictly not a new band Rainbows Are Free from Norma OK are a new one on me again! Bloody hell how vibrant has music become in this sphere we call rock, talk about getting the juices flowing.

I would call this classic stuff, but the band definitely tread the psychedelic stoner path on a par with the seminal ‘Blues From A Red Sun’ era Kyuss, whilst also pushing the last two Monster Magnet releases for the “best in the genre in quite for quite a while” accolade. I’m being really spoiled here!!

This LP is the band’s third release after a self-titled debut EP and then a debut LP entitled ‘Believers In Medicine’, and once again it looks like I’m spending more money thanks to Uber Roick!!! When I tried to research this band I found very little out there apart from the fact that they had won two Woody’s, which apparently is a heavy metal award out of Oklahoma (cue the Doris Day comparisons) one in 2011 and one in 2012.

Looking at Rainbows Are Free sonically they kind of fall somewhere between doom, psychedelia and stoner, but at times influences come from a totally different left of field angle and I even hear hints of what Dead Shed Jokers are doing right here in Wales. Check out ‘Cadillac’ if you don't believe me or is the influence a bit earlier a la the Doors? ‘Snake Bitten By Love’ sends a bit of a Sabbath vibe out into the ether but morphs into a very classic metal riff and vocal and is probably the stand out for me on the LP. Then it’s Dead Shed Jokers time again on ‘Burn And Die’ (and its definitely the vocals of one B. Fain Kistler, sending me along that train of thought).

Again just like that Kamchatka record I reviewed earlier this week this is a stunner of an LP, but I have to say the opening track has probably the longest title I have come across. Imagine opening the live show with “Hey Oklahoma, how you doing? We are Rainbows Are Free, and this is ‘Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell’!!!!” Classic stuff, and almost Spinal Tap-esque!!! I can just see the stage show now!

I love this record. - Uber Rock

"Ultra Review"

I feel like a kid on Christmas reviewing this one. I just became aware of this f’in great band from Oklahoma, and want to say to them “Where have I been all your life?” Rainbows Are Free is an oddball name for a really oddball band, but these oddballs KICK ASS. Richie Tarver has such an awesome fuzz guitar sound, and the songwriting is really inspired and energetic. And the weirdest and possibly coolest thing about Rainbows Are Free is Brandon Kistler’s vocals. He’s got this Jim Morrison/Jim Dandy thing going on in the sense that his singing is different but totally sincere, so that instead of coming across as strange he leaves the listener marveling at how cool he is. I can “like” tunes when I listen to them on my mp3 player, and within two listens of this album I had every tune on this album marked as a like, and if the machine would let me I would have marked them as “love.” I paid $7 to download this on bandcamp (How cool is bandcamp?). I will give this album so many hours of listening it will end up costing me pennies per hour. I loved the album so much I had to pick up the band’s previous album, “Believers In Medicine”. Equally awesome album which made me wonder why I had never heard of a band this great before. Long story short: if you consider yourself a “stoner rock” fan, Rainbows Are Free are an essential addition to your collection. Definitely heavy but definitely not heavy metal. Hard rock with an emphasis on hard, and a focus on awesome.
"Rainbows Are Free's sonic locus appears on the rock n roll family tree at the point where proto-metal and psychedelia shared a common apocryphal ancestor before branching off into their own distinct lineages" - Richie Tarver.
What he said. It’s still early, but I can’t imagine this not ending up on my “best of 2014” list.
- ULTRA - Heavy Metal Textbooks

"Rainbows Are Free Waves Ahead of the Ocean Cargo Records August 4th, 2014"

I think I'm going to confess something here which has taken me by surprise to be honest. Listening to what is called "Blues-tinged Psychedelic Stoner Rock" is something I'm diggin' man. I love this shit.

Has that ever happened to you? The muddy guitars with hints of the mighty 'Sabbath at intervals and those arrangements cannot be excused; and quite frankly I'm glad about it.

This is the second album by the Oklahoma crew who remind me of a twisted mix of The Vintage Caravan, Orchid and Monster Magnet. Check out the title track to grab yourself an insight in to the grubby world of Rainbows Are Free...

Finding myself swaying and singing along with 'Sonic Demon' was embarrassing, due to the grass-cutting obsessed neighbour walking past my window at the time and looking rather unsettled by what he witnessed. Knowing that a song has the title 'Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell', took me back to the days when I thought Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction was the most outrageous name in the Universe of Rock music.

Even at the beginning of the song there is an evil chuckle, so maybe the band knows how utterly cool the song title is and how it'll shamelessly blow the minds of those who stumble across it?

Taking responsibility for grinding the final parts of the remaining brain as the album winds up is 'Comet' which I was hoping would be something spectacular. It didn't feel that way for me, but 'Comet' does end the album with some integrity. Not every band is going to pull something special out of the bag like Rival Sons did with their closing track on 'Great Western Valkyrie' in the shape of 'Destination On Course'.

'Cadillac' does an honourable job in the middle of the album too with its lumbering sections mutating in to wilder outbursts.

Two of the tracks hit below the three minute mark and arrive in the feisty silhouette of 'The Botanist' and 'Snake Bitten By Love'.

They melt in the ears with a sizzle and shake. They make the idea of being snake bitten by such an ominous emotion something to savour and to be addicted to; bring it on baby, I want to be dripping in the stuff.

On reflection, it all wades through the mire of heavy grooves and colourful lyrics with such consummate ease. Time to let loose man 'cos the breeze is pushing the fumes of what these guys are pummelling; and it's rising from a place beyond hell.

Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell
The Botanist
Waves Ahead Of The Ocean
Sonic Demon
Snake Bitten By Love
Burn And Die

Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke - Metal Talk

"Rainbows Are Free – Waves Ahead of the Ocean (Guest Room Records)"

Where to start the review for ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’, the second album by Oklahoman weirdness merchants Rainbows Are Free? Firstly, kudos to them for the best song title I’ve come across in years in the form of opening track ‘Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell”! A title like that alone wins points, whether or not it was backed up by the music, something that the band delivers by the bucket load. Starting out with a gentle distorted fuzz the track first promises the listener the gentlest of journeys, wafted away on a cloud of THC smoke before a rude awakening care of pummelling blues rock based guitars backed up by a fusillade of bass, drums and cymbals, vocalist Brandon Kistler leading a clarion call to arms for a battalion of long hairs, bikers and weed addled drop outs. ‘The Botanist’ continues the hard rock assault before the speed reins back and there is a heavy injection of psychedelia with title track ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’, the laid back but rocking delivery matching the attitude of the wind titan on the album’s retro cover.

‘Sonic Demon’ follows up with the sort of dirty stomp that The Cult once made in their rocking heyday, combined with the bass and drum work that made Butler and Ward one of the finest rhythm sections in existence, a perfect complement to some seventies rock guitar heroics. This is followed by the slithering and sliding acid tinged swagger of ‘Cadillac’, a song that references “California 1999”, but whose dirty beats and bluesy guitars could easily have come from thirty years before that date, as if Hendrix had been playing guitar with The Doors rather than Robby Krieger with The Stooges’ Ron Asheton on rhythm, the whole blend of styles coming together in a five minute slice of consummate rock. By comparison, follow up ‘Snake Bitten By Love’ is a simple motorcycle rock stomp of stripped back riffs and lyrics that could sound clichéd if not delivered with such raw conviction.

Each and every one of the eight tracks of ‘Waves Ahead Of The Ocean’ is delivered with class, and kick out of the speakers with a raw edged conviction that is a testament to the skills of the performers rather than the unnecessary polish of an over intrusive producer. Rainbows Are Free are a band that has supported the likes of Saint Vitus, The Sword, and High on Fire, and with their glorious and unashamed blend of psyche, doom, and down and dirty hard rock, they have produced a solid album that deserves a place next to such esteemed bands wares.

(8.5/10 Spenny) - Avenoctum

"9 out of 10 Rainbows Are Free - Waves Ahead of the Ocean"

With sizzling classic rock solos twinned with psychedelic doom metal is the sound of Rainbows Are Free.

Having supported Black Mountain and High On Fire amongst others you know these guys have got credentials and something to live up to. Their songs are typically swaggering and true to classic rock roots in the wave of retro Zep/Maiden throwbacks that in recent years have become de rigour on the rock scene; namely, Graveyard, The Treatment and a bit further back and you have The Sword.

However, that said these guys, bring an attitude which is the bastard child of Osbourne and Anselmoin the vocal department and have got lick after lick of the good stuff. “Sonic Demon” is exhibit number one, when it comes to this. The dry-throated Shrieks and the breathless drawls are truly unique. Imagine a psychotic Robert Plant stumbling all around the songs with the rock n roll phrasing but wild abandon and you have the RAF style. In fact“Snake Bitten By Love” gives you and example of the topics up for discussion, yes you guessed it; sex, drugs and more sex!! All you really need is a kick ass riff and you can forget the shallow lyrical content. Their previous album was called “Believers In Medicine“, so, you get the picture!!

“Burn And Die” has a darker doom feel to it, with ghostly tremolo-laden vocals, but with the Same rawkus riffage!!

There is no point covering every track on this album. Each one is red hot with rage, tinged with bluesy infused metal and programmed to destroy and that’s how we like it at AATR, so, enjoy!!

Score: 9 out of 10 - All About the Rock

"Planet Mosh Review 5/5"

This second album from Oklahomans Rainbows Are Free immediately wins the PlanetMosh award for THE best song title of the year (if not possibly ever?), in the form of opening track ‘Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell’. It’s a title, and indeed a song, which summarizes the drugged-up, psyched-out, battered and bluesed nature of this soporific yet energizing opus.

Yes, I know that’s a contradiction, but that is genuinely the effect that ‘Waves Ahead..’ has: it washes over you like a gentle wave before slapping you in the face with the acidity of the salt water it brings with it, easing your weary bones yet invigorating your senses with its subdued and understated energy.

Weaving elements of classic southern groove into their overarching heavy doom sound, RAF have succeeded in producing a sound that almost defies genre-fication and proves rewarding on so many physical and psychological levels.

Track list:

Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell / The Botanist / Waves Ahead Of The Ocean / Sonic Demon / Cadillac / Snake Bitten By Love / Burn And Die / Comet

Recommended listening: Snake Bitten By Love

‘Waves Ahead Of The Ocean’ is out now on Cargo Records. - Planet Mosh

"A Psychedelic Stoner Gem 8.5/10"

'Waves Ahead of the Ocean' is my first encounter with Oklahoma based band Rainbows Are Free and it's a psychedelic, stoner gem. It's taken me longer than many to get the whole stoner vibe but albums such as this are going to really help me embrace things a whole lot more. If anything by Raging Slab, Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Monster Magnet, Down, Pentagram and, of course, early Black Sabbath are on your radar then this sophomore release is going to be an unbridled joy for you. In fact, this is one of the catchiest albums of the genre I've heard and that's mostly down to the fun Rainbows Are Free seem to be having playing every note. I think it's a must to own a vinyl version of this because it's seeped in a 70s’ haze that's difficult to ignore and putting the needle down on the sludgy, fuzzy and doomy grooves contained here is almost guaranteed to freewheel me back to a time when, as an eight year old, I was first discovering the likes of Queen, Blue Cheer, Led Zep and Deep Purple.

Vocalist Brandon Kistler seems to have the perfect mix of singing and screaming in his voice that not only emulates those sunny days of my past but also brings this album smack up to date. And, if you're not sure, just check out the great cover and inside artwork whilst cranking up the fabulously titled opener 'Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell' which crackles with enough intensity to down a cannabis fuelled rhino at fifty paces. Guitarist Richie Tarver has almost a dreamlike quality to his solos but his riffs are heavy as lead. Add to this the loose but awesome rhythm partnership of bassist Chad Hogue and drummer Bobby Onspaugh and this really feels like a band going places. It's not easy picking out highlights but the aforementioned 'Speed God', 'Sonic Demon', 'Cadillac' and 'Burn And Die' are probably my pick of the bunch. I've seen other reviewers picking different songs though, so it's safe to say there is no bad or standout moment on 'Waves Ahead Of The Ocean', it's just a bloody great album all the way through. - Metal Discovery

"8/10 for Waves Ahead of the Ocean"

Rainbows Are Free are a “psychedelic proto-metal” band according to their website with influences including Hawkwind, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. All sounds good so far and on second album, “Waves Ahead of the Ocean”, some of those influences are more evident than others. I’m not sure I noticed much in the way of Priest but there is a definite ‘feel’ of Hawkwind and the end of the title track showed me what “Child in Time” would sound like if Tony Iommi was playing on it instead of Ritchie Blackmore. In fact, the spirit of Sabbath is prevalent throughout the album but particularly in some of the guitar playing of Richie Tarver. But, and this is the important bit, it is only some of the playing, not all the time, showing he is not a copy-cat but uses the sound and style of Iommi where appropriate and has the skill to have his own style too.

The album starts with “Speed God…” which creates a great atmosphere from the off, with a bass guitar intro accompanied by soft percussion and keyboards before Tarver jumps in with an excellent solo that really shows what he’s capable of. The ever-changing vocals of Brandon Kistler are a joy throughout the album and at times sound like Ian Astbury, sometimes like Serj Tankian (a bit) and even Ian Gillan at times. With great riffs, solos and atmosphere this is one of my favourites from the album and will definitely remain on my computer for a long time.

“The Botanist” has another great riff and some lyrics that really made me chuckle but I’ll let you hear that for yourselves so as not to spoil it. Great guitar work again and the track is nicely written so it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

“Sonic Demon” is another track that has the by now familiar mix of influences and with it’s very few vocals is nearly an instrumental, which gives the rhythm section space to shine with a great part in the middle before more guitar finishes the track nicely.

“Cadillac” is probably the catchiest track here and will be a great track live I’m sure – I can definitely see the hair flying to this one! An unusual song structure makes this all the more appealing and is another that I’ll be playing again and again.

The dirty guitar sound at the start of “Burn and Die” is great and gives way to what is probably the closest to an early Judas Priest sounding riff on display. The last song on the album, “Comet”, acts as an excellent way to sum up the previous tracks and in fact the first and last songs bookend the album nicely.

While I must admit Rainbows Are Free play the sort of music I don’t listen to very often, they do it very, very well and this album has many highlights to make it worth keeping for those moments when you want a bit of “psychedelic proto-metal”! Clearly they are top musicians that enjoy what they are doing and don’t take things too seriously but can Rock out when they want to. Very enjoyable. - My Global Mind

"Review 'Waves Ahead of the Ocean' - Rainbows Are Free"

Rainbows are Free are a band whose star has steadily, but modestly, risen in their native USA since their formation in 2005, but, as of yet, the quintet haven’t made much of a splash across the pond. Hopefully this will all change with their latest release ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’, due out in the UK in early August.

Packed full of big grooves and even bigger riffs, ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’ is a good effort. The songs are catchy, it’s ball-breakingly heavy, and on the whole it’s a really enjoyable listen. It also should be noted that frontman Brandon Kistler’s vocals perfectly contrast with the music, and while his range is clearly different, the way his vocals cut across the doomy riffs makes this release reminiscent of some early Black Sabbathmaterial.

Critically, though, it has to be pointed out that this release is nothing particularly new or daring; the album might be entitled waves ahead of the ocean, but the music is playing it safe in the shallows, and certainly doesn’t go against the tide; there’s nothing that really makes them stand out from other bands in the genre.

Despite this though, there’s something inherently likeable about this album and indeed this band. Okay, so ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’ [7] isn’t breaking new ground, but that’s not to say it’s a bad album – far from it. It’s a great listen, and one all doom fans would do well to check out. There are some real gems in this album, especially in ‘Cadillac’ and ‘Comet’ where the band’s full musical potential is revealed. Rainbows are Free have received many plaudits in their native Oklahoma, and it’s clear why – they might not yet be the finished article, but they have the potential to be the real deal.

Harvey - Everything Rock

"A Psychedelic Stoner Delight!"

I have to say I love the Psychedelic 60's looking cover of what looks like old father time or which could be a weird picture of God and I kind of knew what to expect from this release. I knew it was going to be Psychedelic, Stoner Rock and it didn't disappoint. If you like stuff like Orange Goblin and Electric Wizard your going to love this. Rainbows are Free also sound like they have been influenced by Down and Black label Society but taking their original idea from the works of legends like Black Sabbath and of course Led Zeppelin.
What I notice from the first track is that the vocals are very strong in the mix and the confidence of this band is riding high. This is a band that love what they do and are very tight, their is big beats their is riffs and it's a great sound that hits you from the first bar. The long titled 'Speed God and the rise of the motherf**kers from a place beyond Hell' think answers who is on the cover... it must be God. This song like the rest on the album could have been recorded back in the 70's if it wasn't for the high production sound of the recording which sounds simply fantastic. This song really get's the album following nicely and leads on well to the riff laden 'The Botanist' which is one of the best pieces of Stoner Rock I have heard in a long time and if it was a little more gritty for me would be an instant classic.
You can just imagine this track live and Down Esq. groove moving you to drink and have a good time... but don't forget this kind of music is smoking music but of course you can't break the smoking band. The groove is insanely brilliant and I do wonder why I have not heard more about this band, I am not sure their name is helping them. Title track 'Waves ahead of the Ocean' has a great atmosphere to it and moves on do a great beat led by the drums and has a few small light lifts that make it interesting. Again the vocals are perfect sounding exactly how they are meant to, but even though I am falling in love with this the lack of grit is playing on my mind a little. It's just a little too new for the sound they are creating.
'Sonic Demon' is a track that Black Sabbath or any band would kill to have in their arsenal and is a future classic like other tracks on this recording. I also like the fact you can feel the emotion that singerB.Fain puts into it as the classic riffs laid down by Richie Tarver light it up. Also half way through it goes into a riff and drums that would just be electrifying on the live stage. 'Cadillac' is a nice interlude and again shows of the band can do but it's 'Shake bitten By' which is my favourite track on the record. It'sMonster Magnet Esq. groove and Classic Rock riff just explodes in your face and could have been written by Euroboy (Turbonegro) or one of other greats in the scene. This song really skips genres and could even be a commercial Rock track.
The guitar sounds awesome 'Burn and Die' which sounds a little Alice in Chains like in places if they were in a Black Sabbath covers band. I also like the way this track builds up and grows as it goes on. I think this one would go down well at a festival or an event in the summer. The last track is 'Comet' which starts with a steady drum beat which get's bigger as it moves on. When the riff hits in this song really arrives and the vocals even go a little bit Vandal X in places but steady and dark in other places. This tune is a great way to end the album full of singles and stand out tracks none better than the other. Yes this is a really strong offering from Rainbows are Free and a essential purchase.
I had really looked forward to the new Black label Society record 'Catacombs of the black Vatican'but I think 'Waves ahead of the Ocean' is a much better way to spend your money. Each track has something new to offer and the recording is second to none. For a second album this is way impressive and this is a band that can't be ignored in the future. If you love Black Sabbath, Monster Magnet, Electric Wizard and Orange Goblin then this will be your new favourite band.

Review by Dan Devour - Music Trespass


Self-titled EP (2008 -Self released)

1.       Are You Dead

2.       Bloodcano

3.       Like A River We Will Roll

4.       Crystal Ball

Believers In Medicine (2010 - Guestroom Records Records)

1.       Slow Train

2.       Freedumb

3.       Come

4.       Believers In Medicine

5.       Last Supper

6.       Are You Dead

7.       J.C. vs Penicillin

8.       Sinking Ship

9.       The Battle of Procreation

Waves Ahead of the Ocean (2014 – Guestroom Records Records)

1.       Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place Beyond Hell

2.       The Botanist

3.       Waves Ahead of the Ocean

4.       Sonic Demon

5.       Cadillac

6.       Snake Bitten by Love

7.       Burn and Die

8.       Comet

Head Pains (2019 – Argonauta Records/Horton Records)

1.       The Sound Inside

2.       Electricity on Wax

3.       Shapeshifter

4.       Covered In Dawn

5.       Lady of the Woods/Psychonaut

6.       Nile Song

7.       A Penny’s Worth

8.       Eunice






"They're from somewhere in Oklahoma. The part of Oklahoma that has UFO cults, bathtub acid, wizard robes, custom vans and amplifiers the size of refrigerators. There's a good chance Rainbows will blow your mind for good, so use caution..." - Ken McIntyre, Classic Rock Magazine

Rainbows Are Free's
sonic locus appears on the rock n’ roll family tree at the point where proto-metal and heavy psychedelia shared a common apocryphal ancestor before branching off into their own distinct lineages.

RAF formed in late 2007 as the conglomerate of several long-time heavy rock bands from Norman, OK. In February 2008, RAF self-released an eponymous demo EP. A year later they began work on a full-length album Believers In Medicine, which was released in April 2010 on Guestroom Records Records (GRR). They followed up with their second album on GRR in 2014 with the release of Waves Ahead of the Ocean, which saw international distribution by Cargo Records UK. All three releases were recorded at the legendary Bell Labs recording studio (engineered and mixed by Trent Bell of Chainsaw Kittens fame) in Norman, OK.

The release of the band’s third full length album, Head Pains, on Italian Stoner/Doom/Sludge label Argonauta Records (Arenzano, GE) with vinyl support from Horton Records (Tulsa, OK USA), has firmly established the band as a mainstay of underground heaviness while further exhibiting the band’s unique voice -- setting them apart from contemporaries of heavy psychedelic, doom, and stoner rock with whom they’ve shared the stage (High on Fire, Dead Meadow, St. Vitus, The Sword, Big Business, Pallbearer, Kylesa, etc.).

Often appearing in costumed stage dress, the band, fronted by the soaring and snarling nigh 7-foot cyclone of weirdness that is Brandon Kistler, continues to shock and amaze fans by introducing an element of good- humored theatrics to accompany their live sonic assault. This is achieved in no small part due to the guitar prowess and songwriting of Richie Tarver, joined by the ambient soundscapes of Joey Powell on rhythm guitar, and the thunderous low end of Jason Smith on bass, and Bobby Onspaugh on drums, and Josh Elam on synth.

Rainbows Are Free continue to bring their unique brand of psychedelic heaviness on tour as they support the release of their upcoming live album, Heavy Petal Music, due out Spring of 2023 on Ripple Music.

RAF is sponsored by Orange Amplification, Keeley Electronics, Pietronix Cables, and Elk Valley Brewing, Co. RAF is:

Brandon Kistler - Vocals
Richie Tarver - Lead Guitar
Joey Powell - Rhythm Guitar
Jason Smith - Bass
Bobby Onspaugh – Drums
Josh Elam - Synth

Band Members